Though the wildfires in Southern California can appear destructive and devastating, photographer Stuart Palley captures their powerful, overlooked beauty in his ever-growing series titled Terra Flamma. For years, the dedicated photographer has ventured into the fire-filled wilderness and spent his time shooting the engulfing flames and fiery forms of light before him. Sparks, light trails, flames, firefighting airplanes, and even the stars add illumination to Palley’s incredible nighttime images. Ultimately, he’s been able to capture each and every intense detail of the blazing scenes through long-exposure photography, using slow shutter speeds.
Each image flawlessly emphasizes that nature can be both mesmerizing and devastating all at once. As incredible as they may be, though, the photographer puts the same amount of thought and care into his images as he does to his safety. Palley made sure to complete the U.S. Forest Service’s Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior class–a course that taught him how to stay out of harm’s way during his daringly creative process. Since he’s personally photographed close to 50 wildfires over the past few years, it’s important that his wellbeing is a top priority.